Thank You For The (Unidentified) Music

When I was a lot younger I never liked music. In fact I classed music lessons in school as a nightmarish an experience as gymnastics or really long assemblies where I’d get pins and needles in my legs.

I look it in hindsight (and I explained to those close to me who were completely bewildered by this sudden change) as looking at one of those black and white Jesus illusions, some clearly can see his face almost immediately and question the thing but for me I had spent an incredibly large portion of my life staring at it until I was going crazy and declaring that people were clearly lying to me and there actually wasn’t anything to see, a sort of cruel, pointless trick.

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I could see that other people clearly got something from this pointless noise but the only things that made any sense to me were musical accompaniments to complete stand alone things. For example musicals made sense as the lyrics were telling a story in a play or a film, or singing The Beach Boys and Queen on our family summer holiday made sense because it was just part of a weird family tradition.

Then, incredibly slowly at first, I developed an intense curiosity about people’s tastes and explanations for their liking of music. I recall my sort of cousin telling me that it was only copying what her friends liked on the now long forgotten MySpace that taught her new music that she would like. Some people clearly liked types that they could play on their instruments they were good at. I didn’t use MySpace and didn’t play an instrument so I was still confused how everyone else did it. Although you could listen to anything you liked on the internet, you couldn’t listen to everything you might like just to find out which ones you do surely?

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The first album I actually acquired independently was (please don’t laugh) the Twilight film soundtrack. I knew that I liked the film and that the music contributed to this in some form or fashion, I just couldn’t explain how and why. After listening to it on a loop I ended up looking into all the artists on the album and then not long after looking at the artists that were classed as similar. It was a very slippery slope and soon, much to the bewilderment of my family I was listening to all kinds, though rock particularly.

I literally dabbled in all the things I could get my hands on by whatever means. I am not sure why but I blindingly trusted my Amazon recommendations and borrowed and burnt all the CDs I could get hold of, friends, family and even friends’ families.

However, the pinnacle of all my research and experimentation was clearly defined in one, what I can only call an epiphany, moment. It was my Nan’s birthday, 7th August 2007, and it had been an incredibly hot day and my window had been open, looking onto the road along the side of my house and across onto the tops of the many neighbouring back gardens along my road. I had noticed a marquee/tent construction in a garden further down the road earlier that day and was vaguely aware that some sort of party had begun in the early evening and as I sat upright on my bed looking out of my open window for the cooling breeze the old-fashioned party music of 1960s-ish through early 1980s began to play across the rooftops and trees and complete the image of this long summer evening.

This is genuinely a view from my bedroom windowVery gradually and oddly calmly I became aware that I was listening and enjoying the music, a particular acoustic folky male singing and I was completely enjoying without listening to it properly, knowing anything at all about it, never having listened to it before (or possibly since for that matter) but completely, deeply, calmly, thrillingly loving listening to that song. And I realised that I had fallen completely in love with music for the sake of music, the complete essence of the thing.

So I smiled and eventually fell asleep lying their huddled up in the corner of my bed until I became aware of the cold of the early morning and closed the window and fell into a deep sleep that night.

The following few days, weeks even, I went around telling people about my discovery until they were all sick of hearing about it.

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Since then I have collected a lot of music, I have met music lovers in peculiar places and accumulated vinyl records, cassettes, mp3 downloads all with equal care and attention. Tried all the genres I can think of, finding the classics I had never previously acknowledged and the obscure and the foreign and the fun.

But I have never forgotten my original falling in love. I have listened in indiscriminately to music in passing by wherever I am and although I have found out types of music that perhaps I wouldn’t choose to listen to I will not a judge a song until I have heard it and it takes a lot of irritation for me to complain about the music that others are playing.

On my Year In Industry last year I travelled nearly every day across Liverpool from Lime Street station to Victoria Street bus stop to get a bus back home across the water. On many of the occasions when I was feeling cold and wet and tired an hungry and longing to get home and to sleep, I heard light rock music coming from the building behind me through an open window. Occasionally I even saw the band dealing in instruments to a car parked across the road, handling awkwardly large and heavy amps and cramming an awful lot of things into their relatively small cars, looking equally as grumpy as those of us commuting form the bus stop. I never found out who this band were but I didn’t need to to enjoy the music, the spirit of it as it was.

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The thing that triggered me to write this particular long and rambling tale of music right now was because I had begun to have a similar experience in my current halls of residence at university. Although music playing loudly is normally the cause of noise complaints from grumpy students across campus when I began hearing guitar playing from the room above me I didn’t actually even contemplate the idea. I assume no one else, like their neighbours on the second floor itself, have complained for exactly the same reasons as me because sometimes the unexpected, unidentifiable music is the best the thing. No visuals, covers, videos, recommendations, opinions or anything else to provide a pre-judgement. Just music for the sake of it.

So I feel like I should conclude my long and rambling tale of my personal discovery of loving music with some kind of moral to the story. Sadly I don’t really think there is one. Just enjoy music and hopefully you can love it as dearly as I do.

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